My son can sort of mumble, “nanamamadada,” not, “Hey Mom! It’s my first birthday? What the hell have you planned for me?”
I was meeting a friend for a drink last week and I told her, “Holt has no friends.” This is true. He has lots of sisters and a ton of people who love him, but friends? Um, no. This is because the dude still can’t talk, and his greatest skill is clapping his hands. In any case, I’m not throwing him a birthday party.
When my daughter turned one, almost 10 years ago, her father and I threw probably the best birthday party in the entire history of 1-year old birthday parties at our house. I hired a magician. I hired an artist to do caricatures of the kids. I ordered an Elmo cake. I had it catered with servers handing out mini grilled cheeses for the toddlers and appetizers for the adults. I also hired a bartender to serve drinks to the parents. Thinking back, it actually wasn’t so much a birthday party as it was an adult afternoon cocktail party, with about 40 parents and their children who were in the basement watching the magician and, oh, right! There was also a puppeteer.
Dear God. WHAT WAS I THINKING? To say I went ALL OUT is an understatement. But it was my first child and what the heck did I know about throwing a 1-year-old birthday party? All the parents had a fabulous time, so much that I couldn’t get them out of the house. My daughter? Well, my daughter, who we did this all for basically just cried the entire time. She looked adorable in her birthday dress, which was bought for the big occasion, but, hey, she was only one and missed her naptime, so she was a cranky little fuck.
So, now that I know better, I’m not doing a birthday party.
Also, my son does not need gifts. He has so many toys that if one more person tries to bring a toy into the house I will shoo them away. Plus, while my son likes toys, he’s also more than happy to play with a damn plastic cup or tennis ball. I may invite a handful of family members to watch him shove his hand in the cake (isn’t that the most important part of a 1-year-old birthday party so you can take a picture?) Or maybe I won’t even get a damn cake. Maybe he’ll get a cupcake. Why? He has exactly two and a half teeth and can’t eat cake, unless I blend it up.
In fact, I told my daughter to organize her brother’s birthday party and she’s thrilled. She’s inviting all her stuffed animals. Which is great! They can’t eat cake! They can’t cry! They can’t mess up the house! Instead of spending probably almost a thousand dollars, as I did on my daughter’s first birthday, I plan to spend no more than $20 on my son. I know better now.
Let’s be honest. No 1-year-old remembers their first birthday. They may want to see a photo of themselves later in life, sticking their hand in a cake or cupcake, and I will do that. But there will be no loot bags, because what the heck do my parents or adult brothers or his sisters need a loot bag for? I’m not even going to decorate and put up a happy birthday banner.
Do I feel bad about this? Absolutely not. Because, really, a 1-year-old birthday party is more for the parents than it is for the child. As for gifts – because I know his grandparents will ask what he wants – I’m just going to say, “Buy him some plastic cups or a tennis ball.”
There will be many, many years for birthday parties where I will probably go all out. But I’ll wait until my son can do more than clap his hands and can maybe say the word, “birthday.”